Dialogue Online Archives

“The elders sit under the big tree and talk until they agree…talking until you agree (or agree to disagree) is the essential (essence) of the traditional African concept of democracy…” Julius Nyerere

Since SALO’s central focus is peace and security, Dialogue Online articles focus primarily on this theme, but drawing attention to the nexuses with development, natural resource governance, human rights and gender, mediation, environment and climate change. Preference is towards articles that speak to international development and peace building policy and practice, raise awareness about conflict situations and the gender dimensions thereof and provoke fresh thinking and policy debate.

Contributions are drawn from SALO’s pool of experts, peace building and development practitioners, activists, academics, former and current diplomats and workshop participants.

“Update on the Political Situation in Lesotho” By Letlhogonolo Mpho Letshele 

The Kingdom of Lesotho has been plagued by persistent political instability since the country gained independence in 1966. Identifying the factors at the heart of Lesotho’s persistent political instability could be an important contribution to attempts to solve the country’s general problems of underdevelopment, insecurity, gross human rights violations, and breakdown of the rule of law. At the center of the current political crisis are the outcomes of the elections that took place in 2007, 2012, and 2015. The involvement of the security sector in the governance of the country has also played a significant role in contributing to the current political instability. Lesotho has a weak state, and state institutions that are highly party-politicised. There are too many political parties, most having been formed for the single purpose of the pursuit of the interests of those who established them.

Download PDF here: DO 4 2018 – Update on the political situation in Lesotho

Global South: India decriminalises homosexuality through Supreme Court verdict” By Sanya Samtani

On 6 September 2018, after over twenty-four years of litigation, and several more of advocacy, the Supreme Court of India declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional to the extent to which it criminalised homosexuality. A constitutional bench of the Court, comprising Justices Malhotra, Nariman, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud, and Chief Justice Misra, held that the criminal provision was used to prosecute, harass, and blackmail the LGBTI+ community, including people who engaged in consensual sexual acts with same-sex partners, and it therefore flagrantly violated the equality, dignity and privacy guarantees of the Constitution of India.

Download PDF here: DO 3 of 2018 India decriminalises homosexuality through Supreme Court verdict

“The World’s First Feminist Government” By Sara Morshedi

Gender equality is a widely discussed topic both nationally and internationally. Women’s rights movements are taking actions worldwide aimed at decreasing and eventually eliminating the financial gap between men and women. Women are taking a stand by letting their governments know that gender discrimination cannot stand if we envision a more democratic and advanced future.

Download PDF here: DO 2 of 2018 – The Worlds First Feminist Government

 “#MeToo #HerToo – disparity in Africa” by Cormac Smith 28 February 2018 

Social media facilitated the spread of the #MeToo #HerToo awareness campaigns, but certain places do not have the same privilege of access we do. Places where sexual violence has become everyday life and continues with impunity. Places where survivors are rarely seen or heard.

Download PDF here:DO 1 of 2018

The Role of the International Community in South Sudan” by Ms Emmaculate Asige, 19 July 2017

As shown by cases such as the Rwandan Genocide, the international community’s reaction to African civil wars has often been too weak, too little and/or too late. However, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the presence of international actors in pursuit of peace in South Sudan has been recorded as overwhelming. Even so, the question remains whether the international community will learn from past mistakes in their efforts toward achieving peace and eventually rebuilding South Sudan.

Download PDF here: The Role of the International Community in South Sudan

“LGBTI Rights and South Africa’s Proposed Hate Legislation” by Katherine Sutherland, 07 June 2017

The proposed hate crime and hate speech bill is a step towards combatting hate directed at vulnerable groups and ensuring alignment between practice and constitutional provisions.

South Africa was the first nation to clearly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution, the fifth to legalise same sex marriage, and a signatory of the first UN resolution affirming the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people: all victories visible on the world stage. These are only a few, of many, examples of SA’s progressive LGBTI policies that have tried to improve the lives of those vulnerable to discrimination.

There has been a significant improvement in the state of LGBTI rights in SA since 1996. Nevertheless, given the history of LGBTI rights in SA, the bar from which we measure our progress is especially low. Whilst we can say that we are closer than we were in 1996 to achieving the aspirational goals of equality set out in our constitution, we cannot blind ourselves to the violent inequality that continues to pervade the lives of LGBTI persons living in SA.

In response to the high prevalence of violence and discrimination targeted at specific identity groups, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) has taken a great leap forward by drafting the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The bill will allow for a judge to take prejudice, bias or intolerance into account as an aggravating factor when prosecuting a perpetrator.

Download PDF here: “LGBTI Rights and South Africa’s Proposed Hate Legislation”

“South African foreign policy’s conflict mediation outcomes are significantly shaped by the democratic deficit which characterises the African continent” By Sambulo Mathebula, July 2016

South African foreign policy has brooked a fair amount of criticism from observers and commentators in recent times. The suggestion has been that it is unclear and that its core values and priorities are obfuscated by practitioners. The following is an attempt to understand the key influences that have shaped South African foreign policy priorities after 1994, in particular, conflict mediation as a key South African Foreign policy priority. South Africa transformed from being a global and continental pariah to a respected actor in international affairs. This occurred within an African context which was ceased with the challenge of ensuring that democratic governance is deepened and consolidated. This brief contribution argues that the democratic deficit which characterises the African continent has been a key influence in terms of shaping democratic South African’s Foreign Policy and approaches to conflict mediation.

Download PDF here: DO2 of 2016

Succession Politics in Zimbabwe: Grace Mugabe and the End of Patriotic History” By Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa, 9 March 2016

In this piece, University of Johannesburg PhD student, Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa, examines the possible permutations of the ongoing factional fights within Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party to succeed the aging party and country’s leader, Robert Mugabe, who turned 92 years on the 21st of February 2016. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, reportedly supported by a faction known as the Generation 40 (G40) is challenging the hitherto “heir apparent”, current vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, “Ngwena” (which means “crocodile”) supported by a faction called “Team Lacoste”. It is widely believed that Mnangagwa enjoys the support of the country’s securocrats, who include the country’s military, intelligence and the former liberation war fighters.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party has thus far rod on the discourse of “liberation war credentials” as a source of political legitimacy, the so called “patriotic history”, of which Grace has none. In fact the G40 and Grace herself, have questioned the claim of exclusive entitlement by former fighters. G40’s affront on Team Lacoste puts to question the view that securocrats, in particular war veterans, are king makers in Zimbabwe’s politics. Within this context, Chirimambowa argues that the “G40” could signal the beggining of the end of “patriotic history”. This will not necessarily usher in a democratic dispensation, but may present opportunities for civil society to re-introduce constitutionalism onto the national agenda.

Download PDF here: DO1of2016

Special Feature: 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children “My friend trafficked me so that she can pay her university fees” by Ms Abigail Javier, Multimedia Journalist, Live Mag SA

The publication of this featured story on Dialogue Online is inspired by the Campaign 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children commencing the 25th of November 2015. It falls under SALO’s Agenda 2030 Development Dialogue Series on Goal 16: Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and access to justice for sustainable development and our work on gender and migration between and within countries. SALO promotes the voices of women, youth, people with disabilities and migrants to engage with policy making at national and global level. The intersectionality of issues within marginalized groupings that lead to acute vulnerabilities are often overlooked in the mainstream developmental discourses. In 2015 Syria’s crisis forced global onlookers to relook at migration in the world and forge a conversation on the nexus between migration, peace and development. On the African continent, it highlighted the much ignored aspect of intra-African migration, in addition to the phenomenon of internal migration. Stories on the forms of intra-African migration like those of Grizelda Grootboom need to be shared to form a basis to address the plight of women and children on the African continent. Grizelda’s story first made it into popular media in 2014.

Download PDF here: DO14of2015

“China-Africa FOCAC Summit: how China can help African countries advance peace in the 2030 Agenda” By Richard Smith (Southern African Liaison Office (SALO)), Showers Mawowa (SALO and University of Pretoria), Anna Moller-Loswick (Saferworld) and Thomas Wheeler (Saferworld)

The sixth meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation provides an opportunity to deepen partnership, address collective challenges, and enable African countries to make significant progress towards the peace-related targets in the 2030 Agenda.

Download PDF here: DO13of2015

 “Trendsetting the Third India-Africa Summit (IAFS 3) in Africa’s Development Trajectory” By  Sanusha Naidu

In this article, Sanusha Naidu examines India-Africa trade relations within the context of the forthcoming, Third India-Africa Summit (IAFS 3) to be held from 26 – 29 October 2015. She argues that the summit presents an opportunity for India to set out a pragmatic agenda for how it will chart its engagement with the continent over the next three years. Sanusha calls on both Africa and India to be decisive in the partnership, with Africa being more coherent about what it wants out of New Delhi, and New Delhi being explicit about what it wants to achieve.

Download PDF here: DO12of2015

“Commemorating Women’s Month” By Litlhare Rabele

August gives an opportunity for all of us in South Africa to reflect on the status of women in South Africa, the role that women play in development, to take stock of achievements, celebrate women who have contributed to the political and socio-economic development as well as the advancement of other women in South Africa, identify challenges ahead and strategies to overcome these challenges faced by women. This year’s commemoration comes at an opportune time in 2015 when the country celebrates 59 years of the Freedom Charter and 21 years of democracy. Furthermore, 2015 has been declared as the African Union (AU) Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards AU Agenda 2063. These indeed call for renewed political will and commitment on the side of the government and decision makers to ensure respect of women’s rights as provided for in the African Union Maputo Protocol on the Rights of African women and the constitution of South Africa.

Download PDF here: DO11of2015

“The Nordic Welfare Model: Lessons for South Africa” By Showers Mawowa

This article is inspired by a seminar hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria on 17 June 2015. The seminar was on the “Nordic Welfare Model as a Transformative Tool” and possible lessons for South Africa. This is a relevant topic for South Africa given the ongoing debates and frustration over the perceived lack or slow pace, of transformation and growing inequality. What, if anything, can South Africa learn from the Nordics? Below, Showers Mawowa shares some reflections.

Download PDF here: DO10of2015


The capture of the city of Goma in November 2012 by the rebel group known as the Movement of 23 March (M23) exacerbated the suffering of women and children in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In order to end the conflict in eastern DRC, peace stakeholders in the DRC signed the Addis Ababa Peace and Security Co-operation Framework (PSCF) for the DRC and Great Lakes region. This article analyses the extent to which the PSCF for the DRC addresses the plight of women and children in the eastern region of the DRC.

Download PDF here: DO9of2015

“Climate Change: An African Opportunity in the Post-2015 Dialogue” By Tamara Naidoo

The catchphrase ‘transformation’ in the United Nations Secretary–General’s Synthesis Report of the Post-2015 Developmental Framework processes, has indicated a fundamental shift in international negotiations on development following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In reflecting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other post-2015 processes feeding into it, the report illustrates the highly consultative process that has emerged from the post-2015 dialogue. A fertile ground for multilevel negotiations between civil societies across the world, their national governments; as well as popular conversation on a wide range of development-related issues including climate change has therefore been laid. This should be capitalised on to create a truly African narrative.

Download PDF here: DO8of2015

“Zimbabwe’s Politics of Despair” By Professor Brian Raftopoulos

In an insightful commentary on the current state of Zimbabwe politics, Joost Fontein writes about the prevalence of despondency in which a ‘new timescale of hope and aspiration’ has emerged ‘that makes both the present and any immediate future appear equally uninspiring.’ In many ways this resignation to the politics of the long haul reflects the loss of hope in an imminent alternative, which was the structure of feeling that fuelled the social imagination of opposition and civic politics from the late 1990’s until the complexities and complicities of the Global Political Agreement. Underlying this politics of despair are a plethora of factors, ranging from the re-organisation of Zanu PF and its political machinery of patronage, coercion and electoral chicanery, to the massive dissipation of opposition energies in the context of large-scale changes in Zimbabwe social structure since the 1990’s. The recent implosion in Zanu PF around the politics of succession have, moreover, provided further evidence of the pervasive mood of despair in Zimbabwe’s polity, even against the background of the ruling party’s purported victory and resurgence in the 2013 election.

Download PDF here: DO7of2015

 “Zimbabwe’s Re-Engagement by the Western Community: A Call for a Calibrated Approach.” By Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa

Post 31st of July 2013; the Western Community has signalled or started engaging and normalising relations with Zimbabwe after close to two decades of contested leadership and disputed electoral outcomes. The signing of a bilateral grant between the EU and Zimbabwe, the visits by high level envoys from the United Kingdom and German in early 2015 signify a thawing of relations and shift from isolation to engagement. The trend towards re-engagement presents a complex challenge for pro-democracy civil society and opposition since the democratic and govenance practice of the Harare regime still leaves a lot to desired. In this article, Zimbabwean scholar, Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa, argues for a gradualist approach to re-engagement based on government of Zimbabwe achieving certain milestones towards operationalising the country’s new constitution.

Download PDF here: DO6of2015

“A Critique of the Current Regional Approach to Human Security within the Context of Informality and a Pervasive Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Sector” By Tamara Naidoo and Showers Mawowa

The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s human security infrastructure embraces the notions of freedom from want and fear as represented in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (1994) . However looking into SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) on socio-economic dimensions and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO) on peace and security, the infrastructure tends to focus heavily on the development and support of formal markets, essentially neglecting another core aspect of African life, the informal sector. In so doing, an opportunity to enhance human security by tapping into the informal economy is missed. This paper calls for a paradigm shift in regional and national policies towards ASM.

Download PDF here: DO5of2015

 “Peace and Security in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Progress and Prospects?” By Showers Mawowa

Though the connection between peace and development is commonly acknowledged, the inclusion of peace and security in the emerging post-2015 development framework has been one of most contested propositions. The consensus around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets including Goal 16 on “peaceful and inclusive societies” and provision of “access to justice” by the Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the 29th of July 2014 and the subsequent endorsement of the SDGs by the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report of 4 December 2014, is a remarkable achievement for advocates of peace and justice issues in the post-2015 development framework. Within this context and in light of the ongoing marathon negotiations leading to the September 2015 UNGA meant to adopt a post-2015 development framework, this article reflects on progress and prospects towards the inclusion of peace and security goals and targets and implications beyond 2015.

Download PDF here: DO4of2015

 “Swaziland’s Elusive Path to Democracy: What role for SA and the Region?” By Klaus Stig Kristensen

Just as with the South African struggle against apartheid, while internal pressure is essential, international solidarity, especially by the regional community, plays a key role in a potential democratic transition. In this article Klaus Stig Kristensen discusses the opportunities for South Africa and the region to support democratic transition in Swaziland in 2015.

Download PDF here: DO3of2015

“Western Sahara: Africa’s Unfinished Business” By Howard Smith

One of the anomalies of Twenty-first Century Africa is the existence of a single remaining colony on the continent, Western Sahara, colonised by neighbour the Kingdom of Morocco. In this contribution, Howard Smith gives a brief resumé of the Western Sahara issue, and then asks, “What more can be done?”.

Download PDF here: DO2of2015

Climate Change Exposes the Limitations of the State-Centred Approach to Peace Building in Somalia” By Tamara Naidoo

Somalia, due to perennial instability, has had a long history of international peacebuilding experiments that in turn, almost set the tone for global peace-building discourse and practise. Despite the successive and concentrated interventions, sustainable peace remains elusive in Somalia. This paper identifies state-centrism and the failure to translate the growing understanding of the link between climate change and conflict into peace-building practice as one of the challenges to establishing sustainable peace in Somalia.

Download PDF here: DO1of2015